Author: Pat Slade
Finally, my first deer… after nearly 20 years of on and off hunting.
Our neighbor said he had a deer problem in his garden, grape vines, yard etc. and he asked me if I could help him out. He didn’t have to twist my arm.
I got my bow and went out this AM just down the road and scared off a coyote first, then sneaked up on a doe. She discovered me at about 20 yards, I had great cover but she couldn’t figure out what I was. She was in range for a good shot. Oh I wish she had antlers! But a promise is a promise.
The night before, my daughter Jessica (12) and I were working on curing her a deerskin. I had brought one back from my boar hunting trip, picked up at the processing plant when dropping of the boars. Anyway she said, Daddy, since we have this skin, we don’t really need another one right now, so can you just shoot at the bucks?
That doe kept coming closer and closer. If she comes any closer, I just might HAVE to shoot her. She’s really asking for it! But what would Jessica say? The doe kept looking at me then over to her right and behind me, back at me then over to her right again. She kept coming my way. I sure wished she had antlers. When she went behind a little tree and couldn’t see me for a second, I moved my foot, just a little, and a BIG BUCK exploded behind me and to my left and disappeared into the woods, startling her too. Oh Man! – Rats!
Sooo…that’s what she was looking at. – Well, it was fun, lesson learned and I had a good story to tell the kids. Gota get to work.
My son Quentin (8) and I were hunkered down in our hiding place. He was watching the woods to the left and I the field and pine tree grove to our right. Suddenly Q whispers, Dad there’s a buck. Sure enough, a nice big 6 pointer comes trucking out of the woods fast and he was out of range before I knew it. I watched him go into the pine grove and sniff around and figured, well there he is, go get him. I asked Q if he was OK to stay there while I “try” and sneak up on him. He was OK with that. I got into the pines and finally found him but he was now way down in the corner of the field with some does, 200 yards off. I snuck down about a quarter of the way there staying in the pines keeping trees between us so he couldn’t spot me. It was getting darker. Suddenly he trots back up to the other end of the field and crosses over to the edge of the pines, right where I was hiding when I spotted him down in the in the corner of the field before I snuck down here. Rats. He comes around a little further getting closer all the time and stops about 20 yards out from me. He’s looking at me but can’t figure out what I am in full Tree-bark camo and in the dark of the pines.
It WAS pretty dark but he was silhouetted against the evening light on the open grassy field, my top pin which has a light for such occasions, had a dead battery. I knew it was dead but had not found a new battery yet. WAL-MART didn’t have it, can you believe it? Anyway, I drew back, lifting my pins into the sky to get a bearing on them, dropped them down to where I thought they should be on his perfect side shot and let it go. The arrow hit the ground at his feet. He’s gone. Rats! Quentin was sure glad to see me again. Said it was kind of scary. There were all sorts of noises. He’s correct about that. The deep quiet woods are anything but, in reality, especially after dark.
Found a battery at Radio Shack next day.
Snuck up on 2 bucks chasing a doe around. She would wander or sometimes trot away from them and one of them would always “herd” her back. I kept waiting for her to bring one my way, but no luck. I tried rattling some antlers to make them think there was a couple of other bucks fighting over here but, they weren’t interested. Finally I had to go and leave them. Rats. Gotta get to work.
Had a great T-Day. Had Lauri’s Mom & Dad, some friends from church and from work over for a big meal. Lauri fixed all the traditional trimmins. Yum.
Next Saturday morning (27th);
Up early and out at dawn. Snuck into my hiding place and tried to stay warm on my little 3 leg stool. About an hour later, from my right, here comes this big buck from the pine grove area just walking along – about 60 yards out. Not fast, but not ambling either. When he goes behind some trees I stand up – now 45 yards out. When he passes behind some brush I draw back my bow and at 30 yards let the arrow fly.
It’s a hit! He turns away from me and runs down the tree line and down a slope so I can’t see him even with my binocs. I saw my arrow in him but I think I hit him in the shoulder. Not a good spot. I was trying for his lung area as that results in a quick kill. I sat and waited going over it in my mind over and over. Yep I think I hit him in the shoulder. Rats! I prayed that it WAS a good shot with a quick demise for the deer.
The best thing to do after a shot (I’ve read), is to wait about 30 minutes for the deer to lie down fairly close and go to sleep from blood loss. If you track him too soon, he will just keep traveling and hiding till you never find him. It was a very long 20 minutes before I finally stood back up and scanned the far woods for him with my binocs again hoping I would see him. No luck. I scanned over the place where I hit him looking for my arrow and down the path he took. Nothing. Rats!
I paced off the distance over to where I could see his tracks in the dirt where he had whirled and run off 35 yards. Whew, that’s a long one for me. My max is about 40 yds. and have any accuracy. No blood. Double Rats. That’s means not a good hit, at least not in the vitals. A lung hit always leaves a good blood trail that’s easy to follow. I must have hit him in the shoulder. I feel bad about that, as that will only injure him. I scan down the edge of the tree line again with my binocs. Nothing.
I started slowly down the path the buck had taken, looking for even a tiny little blood spot, deer hair, my arrow, some tracks, anything…nothing. Sigh. I went down the slope that had restricted my view before and was getting to the edge of the property line. I was wondering how far he went and should I go onto other peoples woods to try and find him or not. I could see houses and backyards pretty clearly now. At the bottom of the slope was a water runoff area, now dry. Not a creek, but just where all the leaves had floated down hill and lots of silt from a recent big rain we’d had. I decided to walk up this wash area and look for his tracks. If he crossed this anywhere, his tracks should show up clearly in the silt. I went up about 30 feet to the tree line, where the wash ended…nothing. I turned and walked back down and got to about where I started and over about 10 yards, in line with where I was walking before going up the wash area. There he was…lying on his side, with my arrow, now bent, sticking out of his stomach area. I stood there for the longest time, not really believing it. I kept saying to myself ; “THERE he is”… “there HE is”… “there he IS”.
Staring hard, I could see that he wasn’t breathing. I walked around and came in from his back side, away from those hooves, and looked at his eye. It looked glassy. I reached in and touched his eye area with another arrow. The blink reflex didn’t happen. He was dead, whew, relief. Then I felt so grateful. Wow…I finally got a deer. His rack had 9 points.
So… I had shot him in the stomach area, not the shoulder after all. I guess because he was walking so fast. (hmm… I should have led him some.) Not a great place to shoot a deer but I’ll take it. I hope he went quickly. Looks like he did as he fell only about 75 yards away from where I hit him.
I drug him back away from the open area, from the view of the houses… and tagged him. That felt good. My first one. It’s only been 20 years.
I walked back to the house and went in the back door. Lauri was in the bedroom making the bed. “See anything”? she asked. “Just one” was my nonchalant reply… (pause) “Wana see him?”
That turned her around. “Did you get one?” she said. I told her the short, quick version of the morning. She was so glad for me.
“The boys (8 & 7) will want to go with you to get him”, she said. That I knew, so I went into the living room where they were watching Saturday morning cartoons. They were dressed in a flash and ready to go. Jessica was still in bed, and I didn’t think she would be that interested in this part anyway, so let her sleep in.
The boys and I backed the truck right up to it, took some pictures and loaded him up. I hung it in one of our trees and cleaned it out into a big tub, using the hose to get everything clean. Since I had punctured the stomach, I thought this was best for the meat. The kids were real interested in all the inner organs and stuff. Jessica knew most of them and helped Mom explain “how things worked” to the boys. The field dressing was a lot harder than I remember, course I had only watched and helped others before. This time it was all up to me.
Lauri’s Mom & Dad were leaving that morning for the week to visit some supporting churches in several other states. He said “We’ll swing by on our way out to see it. Don’t take it anywhere before we get there!” They were really happy for me. Bob had gone with me one night to the same area, but all we saw were does.
After they left the boys and I put him back in the truck to drive down to the local check-in station. At the end of our driveway I could see our neighbor putting up Christmas decorations on his house, so we swung down there first. I pulled up and motioned him over to the truck. As he came up I said, “I just wanted to stop by and thank you for letting me hunt on your land”. He was a little perplexed until he looked into the truck bed then a big smile broke out on his face. “Oh, you got one, wow, what a beauty!” I told him there were some more bucks still in there, maybe one for him. He had mentioned earlier in the year about trying to get one with his shotgun. A few questions, some congratulations, and he was turning back to his work, he shouted over his shoulder, “Come get some more!”, as he walked away.
We drove down to the check-in station and the guy there acted quite impressed. He made a big deal about it but I think mostly for the boy’s sake.
We finally left the meat processing place about 2:30 in the afternoon. The boys were starving by then so we pulled into a Hardees. I had $4 in my pocket and they scraped up all the change they could find in my truck cubby holes and we had some small but really good little hamburgers, a Kids order of fries and water. After that, they said they were plenty full and happy. I know I was happy. It had been a really good day.